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D Quentin Bellamy

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  1. The Colwyn Bay Conacher is still at St Paul's. It was rebuilt in the very early 1960s by John H Cowin of Liverpool. Even in those days it was a cheap rebuild and the fact that it is still playing is nothing short of a miracle. To be sure, in it's present state it's not very good. The Cowin console is now more or less completely worn out and I believe that there is to be some electrical work carried out very shortly (I think by David Wells) and that a new console will be provided. It has the lovely stencilled pipework - alas that the choir stalls obscure the lower part of the chancel organ pipe display. There is also a west-facing rack of very narrow scale pipes. I think that in its time (ie before the rebuild) it was a pretty decent Conacher. St Paul's is a HUGE church with a massive tower and was designed by the Chester architect John Douglas in the 1880s - the tower came in 1910, indicating to me that there must have been an enormous amount of money floating around at that time. Other Conachers locally include Llanelian Church, Bryn y Maen Church, Rhos on Sea United Reformed Church (a later pneumatic job), the now-closed Nant y Glyn Methodist Church (another Cowin rebuild), and the now-closed Engedi Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. There's also a transplanted Conacher (pictured below) installed by George Sixsmith & Co in the late 1980s/early 90s which replaced an earlier Aeolian organ in St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Colwyn Bay. My organ teacher once told me that the harp is not the national instrument of Wales: the Conacher pipe organ is.
  2. I must say that I do think that the Conacher case designs and particularly their pipe stencilling can be very pretty. Having said that I have two in churches in my care and both are plain and not particularly pretty (IMHO). The organ in the Church of St John the Baptist, Old Colwyn dates from about 1904 (and I wonder if it came from somewhere else or was originally designed for the church). It was originally a two manual tracker and then at some time later a pneumatic choir of six stops was installed. The stops are set on jambs at 90 degrees to the keyboards and the whole thing is INCREDIBLY difficult to play. The action is in need of constant adjustment, although the tuning is rock steady generally speaking. It was cleaned about four years ago. But I can't help feeling that for 1904 it was incredibly old-fashioned even then. Soundwise it's quite pleasing although there are some pretty powerful reed stops at 8' and 4' pitch which need careful use, and I also think that it's fairly light in the pedal department. The stop jamb has a blank space presumably for a pedal reed which never came. There are also other blanks on the jambs. Certainly the pneumatic coupling from swell to choir doesn't work well with the very heavy mechanical action thwarting it. I was vicar of a church where we replaced with a digital organ, an Abbott & Smith which had been butchered and just about destroyed by a notorious firm from Stoke on Trent. This time I think it would be a huge pity to lose this rather grand Edwardian pipe organ, and a significant electrical rebuild would preserve and enhance what we have. Alas however, congregations are small and the organ simply is not a priority as there is no budget.
  3. It's very interesting to read about the Porsche style console and even more interesting to read about Holy Trinity, Hull's Compton. But why has this thread drifted from its title - York Minster?
  4. I have noticed that the word "fine" is invariably used to describe organs (and occasionally organists). What would the organ world do if the word "fine" had never been invented? However would we describe organs in such a nightmare world?
  5. Not YouTube - but how I wish I could be there! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fp4bb Posted 28 August Actually the more one listens to Richard Hills' Prom Concert played on the Willis/Harrison/Mander organ of the Royal Albert Hall, the more marvellous it becomes. I really do hope a CD becomes possible. (Better still a DVD!) http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2013/august-26/14684 - at least for a few days....
  6. Are there actually bad organs or is it more rather bad rebuilds? The organ in my church was an Abbot & Smith and I reckon that when it was put in (in 1907) it would have been perfectly good and more than adequate. But then in 1985 it was utterly ruined in an incredibly bad rebuild. Eventually the organ was replaced by a digital organ which is very much appreciated by the congregation and they are really proud of it. I was extremely sad to see a pipe organ go, but the original instrument was more or less destroyed in the 1980s - I certainly hold that particular builder responsible for the ultimate loss of the organ. Sometimes folks just seem unable to leave things alone. What's that wonderful saying I learned in the USA [?] - If it ain't broke don't fix it! The same builder destroyed the organ (I think it may have been Hill) at Hawarden Parish Church, where there is now an Allen system 600, First Hawarden, then Prestatyn (I wonder where else) . . . Quite a track record!
  7. I DO wonder if this comment is worthy of this site.
  8. Yes. I too find it utterly astounding that there is no mention of Carlo's passing anywhere. He was considered a big enough personality to be featured on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and probably known to at least as many people (if not more) than the darts commentator whose passing has been mentioned. Whatever can have happened for this oversight to have occurred?
  9. How very sad, He will be greatly missed.
  10. It does, but it's still a VERY GOOD story!
  11. Please forgive a note of clarification on this one. Ian's present role at Liverpool is that of 'Organist Titulaire' (as in the case of the French models), NOT 'Organist Emeritus' as stated; which title is still occupied by Noel Rawsthorne, who is very much alive and kicking! The difference, of course, being that Ian still works there (at about 40% of the stat services and most of the non-stats and recitals) andis paid for such; whereas the latter is an honorific title, given (as in the case of the clergy) for excellent service over a long period, and which he may be given... eventually... ; this latter post is not remunerable, neither is the holder expected to be actively involved; quite a different role to Ian's and that of David at Norwich and Colin at Lincoln.....
  12. I have a couple of recordings of improvisations made by Edwin Lemare (presumably cut on to rolls). The theme given on one was just six notes in (IIRC) g minor. From that he created all sorts - including a fugal exposition. I have to say that I thoroughly agree with many contributors to this thread that many of the themes given for so-called improvisation are terrible. I was at Bridgewater Hall when (I think it may have been) Naji Hakim was giving what was I think the opening recital. One of the themes was La Marseillaise, together with a bunch of other things which I've forgotten now. Other so-called improvisations have been on Gershwin themes and the likes and I'm not sure if it's really improvisation that we're hearing or some other kind of extemporaneous hullaballoo! I could certainly happily live without a lot of it! LOL
  13. Escrow closed last Friday (3 February) which means that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange now owns the Crystal Cathedral. The former Garden Grove Community Church has three years before they must move out to new premises - that is if the ministry still exists at that time. There are large sections of the Hazel Wright Pipe Organ that are no longer functioning due to water damage from leaking windows - of course that organ is located in what is essentially a huge green-house and whenever I have heard it, it's never been in tune. I don't think that there is air-conditioning in that building and since the windows that should open seized up, apparently the tuner had to tune part of the organ to be useable at the 9.30am service and part to be used for the 11.00am service! I guess that mega-bucks will have to be spent putting it all into good order. It's strangely addictive watching the "Penrod's Pokes at the Passing Parade" website which provides almost daily updates on the sorry situation. Certainly the situation must be almost without precident. To attend a service at the Crystal Cathedral when Robert Schuller was in his prime was a truly memorable and possibly quite awesome experience. And a significant part of that experience was the excellent choir and the mighty organ - one of the largest in captivity!
  14. So ermmm.... why is the console in that location? I still have (on Sky+) a recording of last year's (2010) Midnight Mass at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The congregation was somewhat depleted because of the bitter cold weather, but what a treat! Philip Duffy's responsorials were used, and every so often I go to saved programmes and have a listen! And I just love that organ!
  15. The recent goings on at the Crystal Cathedral are enough to make your hair stand on end! For further information check out THIS SITE. You will find details of how a superb choir was chucked out, how one of the largest pipe organs in the world has been sidelined, and all in favour of backing tracks and a pseudo-gospel choir which really isn't a shadow of the choir it replaced; and how a once hugely successful church moved from bankruptcy to a forced sale. If one considers the history of the church (a so-called Protestant Mega-Church) it is surprising that of the two bidders, Chapman University and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the RC offer was the winning bid. Now it has turned really ugly. I have to confess that I am finding the website makes for fairly addictive reading. The great tragedy is that of an arrogant (and inexperienced) church leadership who refuse to listen to anyone, and who insist on going their own sweet way - a bit like the captain of a ship steering directly towards the rocks - or an iceburg!
  16. Oh wow! I didn't know that. Many thanks. (I see that control minus will have the desired effect for those who find the font too large.)
  17. It may be a sign of my advancing old age, but I really appreciate the larger font.
  18. featuring Mark Thallander (apologies if it has appeared here before). This is at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
  19. Can't say it's really my cup of tea,
  20. Ahhh.... such _good_ Christian hospitality! (Of course there is another solution to all of this, but will not mention it, lest I get into trouble!)
  21. Evidently posted by someone who isn't awake....
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